What’s Up May 24, 2013?

· Sen. Ted Cruz: ‘I don’t trust Republicans’ 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said Wednesday that he doesn’t trust members of his own party to negotiate a budget conference report.

Cruz’s remark came after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he thought it was “bizarre” that a member of his own party was objecting to forming a conference committee with the House to work out a budget.

McCain said the objections suggested Senate Republicans didn’t trust House Republicans to hold the party line in negotiations.

“Isn’t it a little bizarre, this whole exercise?” McCain said after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) objected to going to conference. “What we’re saying is that we don’t trust our colleagues on the other side of the Capitol.”

Cruz responded that he doesn’t trust Republicans.

“The senior senator of Arizona urged senators to trust House Republicans … and frankly, I don’t trust Republicans,” Cruz said. “It’s the leaders of both parties that got us in this mess. … A lot of Republicans were complicit in this spending spree.” Story Continued and to watch the video

REPORT: DOJ SEIZED RECORDS OF FIVE FOX NEWS PHONE NUMBERS

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The Obama Justice Department has seized the phone records of numbers that are associated with White House staffers and, apparently, with Fox News reporters, according to a document filed in the case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, on October 13, 2011. Kim is a former State Department contractor accused of violating the Espionage Act for allegedly leaking classified information to James Rosen, a Fox News reporter. Ronald C. Machen, Jr., the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, who is prosecuting the case, has seized records associated with two phone numbers at the White House, at least five numbers associated with Fox News, and one that has the same area code and exchange as Rosen’s personal-cell-phone number (the last four numbers are redacted).

In all, Machen has seized records associated with over thirty different phone numbers. In the filing that included the new information, the last four digits of each telephone line targeted by the Obama Administration are redacted. Two of the numbers begin with area code 202 and the exchange 456, which, according to current and former Administration officials, are used exclusively by the White House. (The phone number for the White House switchboard is (202) 456-1414.)

At least five other numbers targeted by the government include the area code 202 and the exchange 824. The phone number for the Fox News Washington bureau, which is publicly available, is (202) 824-0001. Rosen’s work phone number at Fox News begins with the same area code and exchange.

William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney, told The New Yorker this afternoon, “Because that information is sealed, I can’t confirm the owner or subscriber for any of those records.” Asked if the phone numbers of any reporters had been targeted in the Kim investigation, Miller said he could not comment.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that, as part of the investigation of the Kim leak, Obama’s Department of Justice seized e-mails from Rosen’s personal Gmail account. In the search warrant for that request, the government described Rosen as “an aider, and abettor, and / or co-conspirator” in violating the Espionage Act, noting that the crime can be punished by ten years in prison. Rosen was not indicted in the case, but the suggestion in a government document that a reporter could be guilty of espionage for engaging in routine reporting is unprecedented and has alarmed many journalists and civil libertarians.

The document uncovered today suggests the government seized “call detail” records from Rosen’s work and cell phones, which would show whom he called, who called him, how long they spoke, and the times of the calls. The document suggests that the government was seeking only the subscriber records for the two White House numbers targeted, information that a government source said would include the name of the official who used the specific line.

Because the last four digits of each phone number are redacted in the government filing, it is impossible to determine who exactly was targeted by the Justice Department.

Here is the full list of the phone numbers included in the filing, which lists evidence that the prosecution was sharing with the defense:

(202) 506 (Comcast)

(202) 777 (ATT)

(212) 601 (ATT) (According to NewsCorp, the main number for the Fox Business Channel is (212) 601-7000.)

(202) 549 (ATT Wireless) (Rosen’s cell phone begins with these digits.)

(202) 615 (ATT)

(202) 213 (ATT Wireless)

(202) 213 (TracFone)

(202) 824 (The main number for Fox News’s Washington bureau is (202) 824-0001 and Rosen’s work line starts with these six digits.)

(202) 861 (Verizon) (Time uses this area code and exchange, but so do other unrelated entities.)

(202) 883 (Verizon)

(202) 293 (Verizon)

(202) 728 (Verizon)

(202) 456 (Verizon) (The White House uses this area code and exchange.)

(202) 547 (Verizon)

(202) 647 (Verizon) (The State Department uses this area code and exchange.)

(718) 720 (Verizon)

(703) 979 (Verizon)

(202) 628 (Verizon)

(202) 577 (Verizon wireless)

(202) 329 (Verizon wireless)

703-472 (Verizon wireless)

(202) 577

(703) 342

(703) 883

(304) 558 (Frontier Communications)

(212) 301 (Verizon)

(202) 628 (ATT)

(917) 562 (ATT)

As of May, the government has handed over sixteen thousand two hundred and eighty-six pages of unclassified documents and three thousand two hundred and three pages of classified documents to the defense in the Kim case. Because many of the filings are under seal, it is not possible to determine what other information was collected in the leak investigation.

But e-mail and phone records were not the only information collected about journalists. According to another document in the case, “the United States has also produced a CD containing voluminous [Department of State] badge records for media personnel for the period March 1, 2009, through September 30, 2009.”

Rosen declined to comment on the case. Asked if the phone numbers of any reporters had been targeted in the Kim investigation, a spokesperson for Fox News said they were not familiar with the new information regarding Fox’s phone records and directed The New Yorker to a statement released yesterday by Michael Clemente, the executive vice-president for News at the cable channel: “We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter. In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.” Story Continued

· U.S. ATTORNEY INVESTIGATING FOX NEWS DONATED TO OBAMA

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The US Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen – the man responsible for the aggressive surveillance and phone record scrutiny at Fox News – is also a big donor to the Obama Campaigns. At the time of his appointment, the Washington Post wrote a profile on Machen including this tidbit:

Over the years, he has donated $4,350 to Obama’s campaigns. He gave $250 to Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2003, a year before Obama, then an Illinois state senator, emerged on the nation’s political radar, according to campaign finance records.

Furthermore, in June of 2012, Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) questioned Attorney General Eric Holder about the appointment of Mr. Machen to head-up the leaks investigation. During the questioning Sen. Cornyn revealed that not only was Machen a donor to the Obama campaign, he was also a volunteer for Obama for America. Cornyn called into question whether he could conduct the leaks investigation in a fair and non-partisan way. Story Continued

Why does this surprise the National Media? This has been happening since time began in the political world. They trade favors and donate money hoping to gain favors and a decent jobs to get back at the other side. What else is new: prostitution? PdC

· Holder OK’d search warrant for Fox News reporter’s private emails, official says

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Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.

The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists.

“I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable,” Obama said. “Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.”

Rosen, who has not been charged in the case, was nonetheless the target of a search warrant that enabled Justice Department investigators to secretly seized his private emails after an FBI agent said he had “asked, solicited and encouraged … (a source) to disclose sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information.”

Obama’s comments follow a firestorm of criticism that has erupted over disclosures that in separate investigations of leaks of classified information, the Justice Department had secretly seized private emails that Rosen exchanged with a source and the phone records of Associated Press reporters.

A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The law enforcement official said Holder’s approval of the Rosen search, in the spring of 2010, came after senior Justice officials concluded there was “probable cause” that Rosen’s communications with his source, identified as intelligence analyst Stephen Kim, met the legal burden for such searches. “It was approved at the highest levels– and I mean the highest,” said the law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He said that explicitly included Holder.

Kim has since been indicted on charges that he leaked classified information to Rosen about how North Korea would respond to a United Nations resolution condemning the country’s nuclear program. He has denied the charges.

In an affidavit in support of a search warrant to Google for Rosen’s emails, an FBI agent wrote that the Fox News journalist — identified only as “the Reporter” — had “asked, solicited and encouraged Mr. Kim to disclose sensitive United States internal documents and intelligence information.”

“The Reporter did so by employing flattery and playing to Mr. Kim’s vanity and ego,” it continued. “Much like an intelligence officer would run a clandestine intelligence source, the Reporter instructed Mr. Kim on a covert communications plan that involved” emails from his Gmail account.

The affidavit states that FBI agents had tracked Rosen’s entrances and exits of the State Department in order to show that they had coincided with Kim’s movements. Based on that and other findings, the affidavit by FBI Agent Reginald B. Reyes, stated, “There is probable cause to believe that the Reporter has committed a violation” of the Espionage Act “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator of Mr. Kim.”

It also said that Google was specifically instructed not to notify “the subscriber” — Rosen — that his emails were being seized.

In new documents disclosed Thursday, the Justice Department sought and obtained approval to keep the search warrant, which was approved by a federal magistrate, under seal. It was unsealed in November 2011, but never made a part of the docket of Kim’s case and went unnoticed until this week.

Justice officials have since said they do not intend to criminally charge Rosen, but media groups have condemned the issuance of the search warrant itself.

“The Justice Department’s decision to treat routine newsgathering efforts as evidence of criminality is extremely troubling and corrodes time-honored understandings between the public and the government about the role of the free press,” said Bruce Brown, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

In his speech Thursday, Obama reiterated his determination to pursue leak investigations. “We must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information,” he said.

But, he said, “Our focus must be on those who break the law,” not journalists. He said he was calling on Congress to pass a media shield law and had raised the issue with Holder, “who shares my concern.”

As part of the Justice Department review of guidelines, the president said, Holder will convene a group of media organizations to hear their views and “report back to me by July 12th.” Story Continued

· Obama Orders DOJ Review of Leak Investigations

President Obama is a little uneasy with the way journalists have been dragged into the Justice Department’s aggressive pursuit of national security leak investigations. In fact, he has ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct a 45-day review of the department’s guidelines on the issue.

That bit of news was buried in the middle of the president’s hour long speech today at National Defense University.

“Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs,” President Obama said. “Our focus must be on those who break the law.”

And then the news: “I have raised these issues with the attorney general, who shares my concern. So he has agreed to review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters, and will convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review. And I have directed the attorney general to report back to me by July 12th.” Story Continued

· Boy Scouts vote to lift ban on gay youth

GRAPEVINE, Texas — The Boy Scouts of America voted on Thursday to end its controversial policy banning gay kids and teens from joining one of the nation’s most popular youth organizations, ditching membership guidelines that had roiled the group in recent years.

Over 60 percent of The National Council of 1,400 delegates from Scouting across the country voted to lift the ban, BSA officials said. The ban on gay leaders was not voted on, and will remain in place.

“Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting’s history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone,” the BSA said in a statement following the vote.

“The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.”

The policy change will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, “allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units,” the BSA said.

But the outcome of the historic ballot is not going to end the debate: Some opponents on the right said they would pull their sponsorships of packs and troops, and parents threatened to take their boys out of Scouting; LGBT activists said the policy change doesn’t go far enough because gay adults still wouldn’t be allowed to participate.

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Terri Hall, left, of San Antonio, Texas, stands with her son Nathaniel Hall, 8, as they rally near where the Boy Scouts of America are holding their annual meeting.

Still, Zach Wahls of Scouts for Equality said this is a step in the right direction.

“Scouts for Equality is honored to be a part of the movement that has achieved a tremendous victory towards the fight for equality in America and we are proud to call ourselves Scouts. We look forward to the day where we can celebrate inclusion of all members,” he said.

Added GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro, “The Boy Scouts of America heard from religious leaders, corporate sponsors and so many Scouting families who want an end to discrimination against gay people, and GLAAD will continue this work with those committed to equality in Scouting until gay parents and adults are able to participate.”

The ban on gay Scouts has been the subject of much soul-searching in the century-old organization – from local troops and councils to online petitions to national board meetings. The dispute was even heard by the Supreme Court, which said 13 years ago that as a private membership organization, the BSA was free to decide who it would admit.

Last summer, the Boy Scouts reaffirmed their anti-gay policy after a two-year examination by a committee. Since then, some local chapters had been pushing for reconsideration.

More than 70 percent of Boy Scout units are sponsored by religious groups, and this compromise proposal has split them. One of the Southern Baptist Church leaders, Dr. Frank Page, last week implored the Boy Scouts not to change the policy. But The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints – the BSA’s biggest charter partner – had given tacit endorsement to the plan.

BSA President Wayne Perry said the vote came after an “extensive,” “exhaustive,” and respectful” dialogue among the members of the organization.

“It’s a very difficult decision, but we are moving forward together,” he said. “Our vision is to serve every kid.”

The stakes are huge for the BSA, which boasts nearly 3 million youth participants.

“This has been a challenging chapter in our history,” said Wayne Brock, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive. “Our goal through all of this was to put the kids first.”

Rusty Tisdale, assistant Scoutmaster for a troop in Ellisville, Miss., hopes there is a local option that would allow the decision on gay members to be made at the troop level. Otherwise, he will pull his kids.

“I’m not happy as a parent,” Tisdale emailed to NBC News. “The gay activist isn’t happy and will not be until homosexuals can be leaders, etc. So there will be more pressure, and more fighting, And more acquiescence. No thanks.”

“There are other activities for my kids to do,” he added. “There are other organizations that I can support with my time and money.”

John Stemberger, from Orlando, Fla., has two sons in the Boy Scouts. He started a group opposing the change called “On My Honor.” After the decision was announced, he said he and his sons — who have yet to reach Eagle Scout — were leaving the Boy Scouts.

“Sex and politics just have no place in the Boy Scouts of America,” Stemberger said. “The entire process was disappointing.”

David Metcalf, 55, and his son Sean Metcalf, a 13-year-old Star Scout with Troop 226, from nearby McKinney, Texas, came to Grapevine to hear the results of the vote. The troop is chartered by Peach, a Christian homeschool organization.

“We’re very disappointed,” he said. “I will compare it to a funeral.”

Sean, wearing his Boy Scouts uniform, said he didn’t know if he could continue being a Scout.

“I hope I can continue,” he said. “It depends if my parents feel safe to let me stay.” Story Continued

· Bridge collapse that sent cars and drivers plunging into river was caused by a truck hitting the overhead bar as three victims escape alive

A bridge collapse that sent cars and drivers plunging into the Skagit River in Washington State was caused by an over-sized truck that collided with the span of structure, authorities have said.

‘For reasons unknown at this point in time the semi struck the overhead of the bridge causing the collapse,’ State Patrol Chief John Batiste revealed at an overnight news conference.

The truck made it off the bridge and the driver remained at the scene and cooperated with investigators, he added.

Three passengers were pulled alive from their vehicles after they plunged tens of feet into the water below at around 7pm on Thursday. Even more were pulled from the debris, but rescuers said no one died in the dramatic accident and all victims have been accounted for.

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As the rescue operation remains underway, it was revealed that the bridge was previously recognized by state authorities as being ‘functionally obsolete’ as a result of certain structural changes that required attention.

The I-5 runs through the state, crossing the Skagit River at a number of different points, but the bridge where the collapse happened was between Burlington and Mount Vernon.

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Both the north and southbound lanes of the bridge fell into the water, and as such both directions of the highway have been closed in the area.

There were early eyewitness reports that people watching were screaming that a man was stuck inside his truck that fell in the water during the collapse.

Jeremiah Thomas, a volunteer firefighter, said he was driving in the area when he saw movement out of the corner of his eye.

‘The bridge just went down, it crashed through the water,’ he said. ‘It was really surreal.’

At least two vehicles – a car and the pickup with a trailer attached – fell into the river, officials said.

Vehicles in the water, which is about 15 ft. deep at the point of the incident, could be seen bobbing on the surface and were likely resting on collapsed portions of the bridge.

Dan Sligh and his wife were in their pickup truck on Interstate 5 heading to a camping trip when a bridge before them disappeared in a ‘big puff of dust’, he said.

‘I hit the brakes and we went off,’ Sligh said from hospital, adding he ‘saw the water approaching … you hold on as tight as you can.’

Desperate search: Eyewitnesses said that they could hear a man screaming from one of the trucks that fell in the water

Sligh, who was dumped into the chilly waters with his wife and another man in a different vehicle, dislocated his shoulder in the plunge. He managed to pop it back in to place before calling out to his wife, who he described as being in shock.

The three victims were taken to Skagit Valley Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The other man was reported in stable condition at United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, hospital CEO Greg Reed said.

Officials were quick to note that it would not be a massive accident, as highway trooper Mark Francis told local station King 5 News that because the bridge is in a relatively rural area, he does not expect mass casualties.

The bridge, which was built in 1955, was inspected twice last year and repairs were made, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson said.

‘It’s an older bridge that needs a lot of work just like a good number of bridges around the state,’ she said.

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Location: The bridge itself is in a rather remote area between the towns of Burlington and Mount Vernon but the interstate itself is a major thoroughfare that connects Seattle to Canada

Officials are now working on plans for either a temporary or permanent replacement, she said.

According to a blog that monitors transportation reports, the 2010 inspection called for an estimated $1,035,000 in repairs to bring the bridge and its connection to the surrounding riverbank up to satisfactory levels.

The bridge was not classified as structurally deficient, but the Federal Highway Administration listed it as being ‘functionally obsolete’ – meaning the design is outdated, such as having low clearance.

The bridge has a sufficiency rating of 57.4 out of 100, according to federal records, which is well below the statewide average rating of 80, according to an Associated Press analysis. Story Continued

· Who Says Women Aren’t Sexist?

Sari had been working in book publishing for a long time. And she was the first to admit: She preferred to work with women. In her experience, women were far superior to men as editors. They were better suited to collaborating with writers. They were more patient, more nurturing. “Women can coax far better material from writers than men,” Sari told me plainly. “It’s just a fact.” She believed it to her core.

Which is why by the time Sari ascended to the position of editorial director of a large publishing group, the majority of her hires were women. And in cases where she did hire a man, or perhaps inherited one, she admitted she was harder on him than she ever would be with her female employees, questioning his decisions or micromanaging him until she felt he’d adequately proven himself. “I have this feeling, this belief, that since male editors are often so arrogant, their own egos clash with the writer’s and prevent great material from happening,” she told me. “And I can’t have that happening with any of my projects. So I end up pushing and pushing and keeping constant tabs, jumping all over a guy for even the tiniest misstep. It’s exhausting, but that way, I can avoid one mistake from turning into many.”

When I suggested to Sari that she was behaving in a pretty obviously sexist manner, she was shocked. In her mind, she was simply reacting to facts and patterns she’d seen over her long career. “Sexist?” she asked. “It’s not like I’m asking them to move furniture while the women sit around painting their nails. They’re men — they’re not babies. They should be able to put up with some strong direction.” And that, of course, was exactly my point: By banking on the fact that men should be “tough enough” to handle her criticism and demands, she was piling on them her own bias. She was treating them not as individuals but as a collective group defined exclusively by their gender. Reverse the roles — imagine Sari as a man and her “problem” employees as women — and it’s easy to see how Sari’s prejudicial treatment was influenced by gender in a way that made it difficult for the men who worked for her, more than the women, to please her, and ultimately to succeed.

We don’t tend to think of women as sexist, largely because historically, sexism has been something perpetrated by men towards women. But sexism refers simply to unequal treatment in relation to a person’s gender. It often involves a power dynamic — common in the workplace — and can happen to, and be inflicted by, anyone. Many feminists have rejected the notion that women can be sexist towards men because women lack the institutional power than men have. Except we know that’s changing, most notably at work, as more females rise to management positions, a trend that will only continue to grow, since women now comprise the majority of college and graduate students nationwide.

The rise of females in power positions may be one reason that more and more men are reporting having experienced discrimination at work — even more so than women. A 2006 study commissioned by staffing agency Kelly Services found that nearly 35 percent of men said they believed they had experienced discrimination over the past five years at work compared with 33.3 percent of women. Of course, like Sari, many women may be surprised to find that they can, in fact, be sexist, or that the “preferences” they hold in the workplace may actually be dangerously prejudicial. In many cases, such sexism is what researchers have dubbed “benevolent sexism,” a less overt form of sexism that often plays on stereotypes such as the idea that men should always open doors, or that women are more nurturing and kinder than men. They are comments or attitudes that are seemingly positive — such as, a man can surely handle criticism — but serve to cause feelings of unease, or lead to unequal treatment. And, according to study conducted at the University of Florida, such sexism is practiced by men and women in equal measure.

Tracy, a regional manager for a large department store chain, would not have said that she believed women were inherently more talented salespeople than men. But she often managed her employees according to that notion, assigning men to easier shifts, which often had them working during the day — and earning less commission than their female counterparts — or holding extra trainings exclusively for male sales staff on topics like “What to Wear to Work” and “How to Talk to Women.” At the same time, Tracy did acknowledge that she tended to favor her female employees — especially single mothers who were working to support a family. “Giving the women the better shifts felt like female solidarity, like I was performing a necessary duty,” she said. “Women so often get a raw deal, I figured what’s the harm in doing my part to advance the female movement?”

Except, of course that idea is sexist, too — that women need help. Tracy’s intentions were good, of course, but the result was still the same: She was using her position of power to keep one gender down and/ or lift the other up. But speaking up, lobbying, or otherwise going above and beyond for a woman, when you might not have done the same for a man, is a subtle way of reinforcing the idea that women need to be spoken up, lobbied, and gone above and beyond for. It’s not taking them seriously.

Practicing a non-sexist work environment means treating people equally regardless of gender. Ultimately, Sari realized that much of her attitude towards male editors was an outcome of her own struggle to succeed — something she always assumed was harder because she was a woman. Likely she wasn’t wrong, but the answer isn’t to pay the sexism forward. “I maybe had a bit of a chip on my shoulder,” she said later. “I had to prove myself coming up as an editor, and now that I was in charge, I wanted men to know what that was like.” Given that so much sexism is benevolent, or unintentional, ending the cycle means paying attention, and recognizing that sexism is sexism and, in any form, is damaging to the idea of gender equity. It’s also about recognizing that the best workplaces are built on the ideals of hard work, talent, and dedication — three qualities that know no gender. Story Continued

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